How can I keep my cat off the back of the couch?
August 10, 2010 3:01 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep my cat off the back of the couch?

My cat likes sitting on the back of the couch to look out the window or to take a nap, and squishes the tops of the back cushions down in the process. After he's done on the couch, the cushions are left mashed out of shape and looking messy. How can I keep him off the back of the couch?

I've tried lining it with aluminum foil, and while that works pretty well, the couch-wrapped-in-foil look is starting to get old. I tried leaving some peels of an orange on the windowsill because I read cats dislike citrus, and it worked OK for a day or so (I think...) before the peels dried up. And he spends a lot of time on the couch at night or during the day when we're not around to catch him in the act and spray him with water.

Is there a safe and non-stinky (to humans) cat repellent product I could try to keep him off the couch? Please share your secrets to keeping cats off furniture!
posted by illenion to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put double-sided tape along the area where you don't want him. Leave it there for one to two weeks. He won't go up there any longer.
posted by whiskeyspider at 3:08 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recently put some made-for-pets double-faced tape on a leather couch that was being destroyed. My cats hate and avoid the tape, but I haven't removed it yet to see if the effect lasts.
posted by coolguymichael at 3:09 PM on August 10, 2010

What I would do -- and this really isn't the answer you want -- is get a couple of brackets and put a shelf right behind the couch. Or I'd just get some sturdier cushions. (I like my cat back there. He needs my shoulder and makes a great head rest.)

If he's only doing it when you're around, the usual way is to squirt him with a spray bottle. My sister finally got a Scat Mat to use on her counters and it worked, and there are electronic, remote controlled collars too.
posted by Some1 at 3:15 PM on August 10, 2010

*there was supposed to be another 'k' in that post somewhere; you can decide where.
posted by Some1 at 3:20 PM on August 10, 2010

I have the same problem. I put toss pillows along the back of the couch and that seems to be enough to deter them.

PS: Photos are required!
posted by deborah at 3:22 PM on August 10, 2010

It's the window. Short of getting rid of the couch, the cat will never stop getting on the back of the couch because he or she wants to lay in the window.

My advice to you, as someone who has seven cats and a husband who wistfully remembers a time when he had nice furniture, is to cover the back of the couch with something easily washable and learn to live with it.
posted by crankylex at 3:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

deborah, Sammie says hello!

I'll try some double-sided tape, I'd forgotten about that option. Thanks whiskeyspider and coolguymichael!

Some1, I actually had been considering a shelf of some sort, so your answer is very welcome. I'll think on that more once I've exhausted the non-permanent options.

crankylex, I've had a little luck with making the window behind the couch less appealing with shades/curtains, and making other (more exciting!) windows in the house available. Ever since we mounted Sammie's bed directly under a window we leave open (screened in), he's been spending much less time on the couch.
posted by illenion at 3:46 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Negative conditioning doesn't really work for cats, they know you are the source of it and they will, at some point when you least expect it, make you pay.

Positive conditioning is your best bet here: move something softer and more enticing nearer to the window than the sofa. I like using heated beds/mats as sleepy cat attractants, even during the middle of summer I'd have to use a crowbar to pry the cats out of them.
posted by jamaro at 3:50 PM on August 10, 2010

We have had good luck spraying things with bitter apple. We never sprayed it in the cats mouths or on their face as some instructions tell you to do. We just spray where we don't want them to chew (venetian blinds) and where we don't want them to sleep (laundry basket). It's worked like a charm. They also have lots of other comfy places to sleep like a cat bed and a blanket just for them on the couch.
posted by sadtomato at 4:14 PM on August 10, 2010

What's more important to you, your cushions not looking messy or the happiness of your cat, who loves you and depends on you for everything and doesn't have the option to go out and get friends or hobbies? It sounds like, even given other options at more exciting windows, he still prefers to be close to where you sit and where your smells are. That's sweet.

I would either mount something in that spot above the couch for him to sleep/lounge on so he can still be near you without squishing the cushions, or cover his spot with a small washable blanket to help control the fur and deal with having to fluff up the cushions once in a while.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:21 PM on August 10, 2010

It's a cat and a window. If you don't want a squishy couch back then you'll eventually have to employ the shelf method or some other solution. I remember when my Mom rearranged the living room and moved the sofa away from the front window. The late, great Sparky protested so vocally that it sounded like we were trying to neuter him without anesthetic. Dad finally found a solution acceptable to the Spark, and for years afterward visitors and delivery personnel (friends and family already knew the answer) would ask why we had an upholstered ottoman on top of a coffee table in our front window.
posted by Oriole Adams at 4:50 PM on August 10, 2010 [7 favorites]

Sheepskin Window Cat Perch

It's not a permanent solution, although when I had one, we ended up with some marks on the wall below from the cats jumping up, and some marks on the window ledge where it's attached.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:36 PM on August 10, 2010

It's the window. I say this as someone who might as well own 3M's Sticky Lint Roller division by now. I've given up on trying to get them off the couch and take some solace that I've broken them from thinking they can sit on the kitchen table when we eat.

Because they've repeatedly refused to get jobs, they are home much more than we are, so I've just thrown a sheet over the couches. I punch the couch cushions and pillows ever so often to fluff them.
posted by jerseygirl at 5:42 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

I had a girlfriend who found success taping foil to it. I guess kitties have an aversion to walking on it. You could even crinkle it a bit so it's not all that fun to walk on if they like the noise.
posted by magnoliasouth at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2010

I think, as a lifelong cat owner, that the best solution is to get over your neuroses about the couch cushions. Cats are cats, and when a sunny/interesting window is involved, there's really no way to keep them from it.

Kick the cats off when it bothers you, and when it doesn't, just let them recharge their solar powered batteries, watch the birds they'll never get to kill, and just be cats.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:49 PM on August 10, 2010

Spray diluted vanilla there. The pet store has a spray, too, but vanilla has worked well for us.
posted by Mertonian at 8:53 PM on August 10, 2010

Tin foil.

We tried tape, spray, etc. -- every commercial product meant to keep cats off. But the thing is, they absolutely hate tin foil, especially fresh, crackly, noisy foil. We put it on when we left for work, took it off when we were home. A year or so later it wasn't even necessary.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 9:41 PM on August 10, 2010

Sorry -- I meant to say -- the taking it off part is critical. You don't leave it on all the time...
posted by Señor Pantalones at 9:41 PM on August 10, 2010

Sammie is very beloved, so I'm not too concerned with inconveniencing him on this one couch issue. Thanks for the advice everyone! (Except for the "neuroses" comment - uncalled for.)
posted by illenion at 10:17 PM on August 10, 2010

We were having trouble with our cats jumping on the counters and jumping on (then shredding) the couches. One of these worked wonders--it took each of them exactly one time of getting zapped before they quit cold turkey. We left it up for a couple of weeks to make sure they weren't re-testing the counter's surface, but I've never heard it beep again during the night; it was an instant fix.
posted by Mayor West at 7:17 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second the idea of an official window seat - your cat will never want to sit anywhere else. If there is not enough room for it to stick out from the window toward the sofa, you can buy one that drops from the ceiling or sticks out into your yard (sort of like an empty, caged air conditioner).
posted by analog at 5:45 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

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